Learning to sell when you despise sales

I dislike at the mall, when someone from a sales kiosk stops me to ask if I want a cell phone plan, a wacky t-shirt, or sunglasses, or Brazilian waxes or whatever the hell they sell at those things.

In fact, I do not like being approached by salespeople, ever. Once I went into a shoe store, and said, “I want some plain black shoes for under fifty dollars, and I am asking you right up front, please don’t try to sell me anything extra, I want to keep this simple and quick.”

The guy went to look for my size. Came back with a pair of $120 shoes, and tried to sell me socks and in soles.

I get it. That’s their job. But I never went back to that shoe store again, so maybe they weren’t doing their job too well. Or maybe I am a jerk. Or maybe I just don’t appreciate it when people do the opposite of what I prefer after I made a simple request…

I would never want to sell shoes, or phones. Because of the golden rule. Do unto others as you’d want them to do unto you.

I’d hate myself if selling in soles was more important to me than respecting someone’s autonomy.

Here’s what else irks me. When I am on a website, reading a news article or blog, and a giant pop-up overtakes the screen.

Have I ever, and I mean ever in the history of my life, clicked on a fucking full screen advertisement that interrupted my reading?

No. The answer is no. Never. Have you??

Then there are people with pop-ups asking me to sign up for their email list.

Someone I’ve never heard of, begging me for my email address after a meager ten seconds on their site. Nine times out of ten, it’s not going to happen. The one time out of ten when I do sign up, I probably would have done it anyway, no pop-up needed.

So, why do these things annoy me so much?

Well, because other people’s agendas are getting in the way of my own agenda. My agenda is to read an article or buy shoes. Their agenda is to make commission, or build their email list.

I know my tendencies as a consumer. Most emails I receive from mailing lists, I simply don’t read. The sender knows that. They have access to the metrics. They can see how many people opened their email, what they clicked on, etc.

But they figure, if they cast a large enough net and get enough subscribers, a small percentage will engage with whatever they’re selling. If you have a million subscribers, 1% engagement = 10,000 customers.

So, they don’t care who they piss off with their pop-ups. Those subscription pop-ups, according to all the data I’ve seen, are effective.

As of writing this, I don’t have any pop-ups installed on my site. If you’re reading this in the future, maybe that has changed. Which would be a fat spoonful of irony.

As I work on building my personal brand, I am confronted with such conundrums every day.

I am currently building my first sales funnel. Less than a year ago, I had no idea what that term meant, but I didn’t like it.

A sales funnel is when you give something away for free or generate interest with marketing (casting a large net) and then “funnel” the recipients towards further outcomes such as paid transactions.

As a consumer, I usually dislike being funneled. I can’t stand it when people aren’t up front about what they are selling.

“SIGN UP FOR MY 100% FREE WEBINAR,” they say. Nowhere in their pitch do they mention that a huge part of that webinar is going to be another pitch for another webinar or class or book or whatever. Maybe the free webinar offers value by itself, maybe it doesn’t. Some people’s sales funnels feel like a long con.

And it seems to work for a lot of people. It’s a game. Those playing this game well are making a lot more money than I am. But just like I am not going to apply for a job in footwear sales any time soon, I am also not going to set up elaborate online manipulations to trick people into giving me what I want.

If I ever make one of those videos. Maybe you know what I mean. The really, really long videos that seem to never end and take forever to get to the point. You know from the beginning they are trying to sell something, but you only have a vague or general idea what it is. The speech delivered in the video is painstakingly-crafted to manipulate you, and it’s so obvious. You wish they’d just get to the point, because you’re a little intrigued. Over an hour later, they reveal the price point. Buy it today, and the price will be even lower. You’ve invested an hour of your life into this, and it seems promising. Even after all that talking, the product or service is still kind of vague. So, you click the link and go to the site for more info. Then there are five more products or services at special price points, just for you, just for today.

If I ever do that, I give you permission to shoot me. Seriously. Just shoot me.

People I admire and respect set up systems just like the one described above. They make a lot of money that way, and it’s a common, accepted practice.

But there has to be a better way. A way to be more authentic, concise and forward. Transparent, efficient, and respectful of your time and intelligence.

If I ever make you say, “WHAT DID I JUST DO WITH THE LAST HOUR OF MY LIFE?” then I am doing it wrong.

I strive for my agenda and yours to brilliantly shine as one. It may take some practice and experimentation to get it right, but we’ll find the balance. If you want plain black shoes for $50 or less, then its my sole purpose in life to hook you up with plain black shoes for $50 or less.

If you want to help me out as I experiment with email lists and funnels and learning how to build a personal brand that adds value to people’s lives with minimal to zero gimmickry, I’d love for you to sign up for my email list. 🙂